Writing -- Blogging

"I don't know what I think until I see what I say"
– attributed to Flannery O'Connor

“Every clear sentence I write removes more undergrowth of confusion from my mind.”

– attributed to Robert W. Russell

"We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand."

– attributed to C. Day Lewis

I write to think. I write to learn.

Putting thoughts into sentences, and reading and editing them, lets me see each thought on its own and helps me to see how those thoughts go together. It helps me figure things out and helps me determine if an idea is significant or trivial.

I want each sentence to be defensible. I know how complex the world is and I don’t like broad statements which deny exceptions. But I also know that words like “usually,” “often,” and “mostly” make writing sound tentative. I walk a tightrope between simplification and accuracy, which can sound like the difference between confidence and mushiness.

As an example, each of the quotes above says “attributed to . . .” Quotes from famous people often have a life of their own apart from what the person actually said or believed. If it doesn’t come from an authoritative source, I don’t want to say that it’s a quote. “Attributed to . . .” is a fine compromise here.

Each word should say something, and I have to make sure that the entire piece says something. I am careful about word choice. I usually take out the unnecessary words and sometimes the unnecessary sentences. I know that I tend to leave in too many paragraphs. If I am writing for myself, it’s good to put the entire argument down to make it as clear as possible. If I am writing for others, I can let assumptions stand on their own.

My spelling is bad; my grammar is fair. Spell check takes care of most of that and grammar check helps. I like to leave a piece be for a while and come back to edit it. If I am writing something which I feel is important, I try to have it edited by someone else – but that’s a pain.

I tell myself that I don’t care if anyone reads what I write, and it’s mostly true. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be excited if other people did read what I wrote.

It is self indulgent, but that is mostly ok.